Showing posts with label Future Networks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Future Networks. Show all posts

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Satellite Industry is Gearing up for The Next Revolution in Communications

Intelsat graphic
Source: Intelsat
I have been talking about the role of satellites in future communications on my blog and various industry fora. While most of the telecom industry is focused on 5G, it’s good to see that the satellite industry is getting ready for the next revolution.

Source: New York Times
Masayoshi Son, chief executive of SoftBank has made it his mission to merge satellite operators Intelsat and OneWeb. While on the surface they may seem as competitors, in reality they complement each other. Intelsat operates geostationary (GEO) satellites while OneWeb is building low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. They both serve overlapping but different purposes and it makes sense for them to work together. LEO satellites which are roughly at 1200km have far lower latency than compared to GEO satellites that are 36,000km away. On the other hand LEO satellites do not appear stationary unlike GEO satellites.

We in CW are already aware of Masayoshi Son’s ambition and vision. Last year Softbank acquired ARM for approximately £24 billion. In a recent keynote delivered at the Mobile World Congress 2017 (#MWC17), Son explained his vision and reasoning for this purchase. In fact he mentioned that he has a 30 year vision which is why he thinks ‘cell towers from space’ are the next step in evolution. While he refers to them as fiber from the space, I wouldn’t go that far in comparison but do admit they have the potential to deliver high speed connectivity anywhere on earth.

The most obvious application of high speed connectivity ubiquitously available anywhere on earth are connected cars. While there is Wi-Fi to provide connectivity and software updates when parked at home, it will be complemented by mobile connectivity within the cities and the major roads. What is missing is anywhere and everywhere connectivity that the satellites can bring.

The big barrier for satellite connectivity in the cars had been the need for satellite dish mounted on the top of a car roof. Kymeta, an innovative company based in Washington, USA has been trying for years to solve this problem. In May, they will start selling  their “lightweight flat-panel antennas, meant to bring fast satellite-transmitted internet connections to cars, trains and boats”.

Source: Seattle Times
Kymeta is partnering with Toyota and Intelsat to bring a complete solution for future connectivity in the cars. They are not the only ones, there are other similar interesting projects ongoing in many different parts of the world.

The telecom industry cannot ignore satellite communications forever. Satellites have already proved themselves beyond doubt in broadcasting, navigation, earth observation, etc. It’s just a matter of time before they prove their while in communications as well.

Originally Posted on CW Blog here.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Connecting Rural Scotland using Airmasts and Droneways

This week EE has finally done a press release on what they term as Airmasts (see my blog post here). Back in Nov. last year, Mansoor Hanif, Director of Converged Networks and Innovation BT/EE gave an excellent presentation on connecting rural Scottish Islands using Airmasts and Droneways at the Facebook TIP Summit. Embedded below are the slides and video from that talk.

In other related news, AT&T is showing flying COWs (Cell On Wheels) that can transmit LTE signals

Their innovation blog says:

It is designed to beam LTE coverage from the sky to customers on the ground during disasters or big events.
Here’s how it works. The drone we tested carries a small cell and antennas. It’s connected to the ground by a thin tether. The tether between the drone and the ground provides a highly secure data connection via fiber and supplies power to the Flying COW, which allows for unlimited flight time.  The Flying COW then uses satellite to transport texts, calls, and data. The Flying COW can operate in extremely remote areas and where wired or wireless infrastructure is not immediately available. Like any drone that we deploy, pilots will monitor and operate the device during use.

Once airborne, the Flying COW provides LTE coverage from the sky to a designated area on the ground.  

Compared to a traditional COW, in certain circumstances, a Flying COW can be easier to deploy due to its small size. We expect it to provide coverage to a larger footprint because it can potentially fly at altitudes over 300 feet— about 500% higher than a traditional COW mast.  

Once operational, the Flying COW could eventually provide coverage to an area up to 40 square miles—about the size of a 100 football fields. We may also deploy multiple Flying COWs to expand the coverage footprint.

Nokia on the other hand has also been showcasing drones and LTE connectivity for public safety at D4G Award event in Dubai

Nokia's Ultra Compact Network provides a standalone LTE network to quickly re-establish connectivity to various mission-critical applications including video-equipped drones. Drones can stream video and other sensor data in real time from the disaster site to a control center, providing inputs such as exact locations where people are stranded and nature of the difficulty of reaching the locations.

Related Posts:

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Facebook's Attempt to Connect the Unconnected

I am sure that by now everyone is aware of Facebook's attempt to connect the people in rural and remote areas. Back in March they published the State of Connectivity report highlighting that there are still over 4 billion people that are unconnected.

The chart above is very interesting and shows that there are still people who use 2G to access Facebook. Personally, I am not sure if these charts take Wi-Fi into account or not.

In my earlier post in the Small Cells blog, I have made a case for using Small Cells as the best solution for rural & remote coverage. There are a variety of options for power including wind turbines, solar power and even the old fashioned diesel/petrol generators. The main challenge is sometimes the backhaul. To solve this issue Facebook has been working on its drones as a means of providing the backhaul connectivity.

Recently Facebook held its first Telco Infra Project (TIP) Summit in California. The intention was to bring the diverse set of members (over 300 as I write this post) in a room, discuss ideas and ongoing projects.

There were quite a few interesting talks (videos available here). I have embedded the slides and the talk by SK Telecom below but before I that I was to highlight the important point  made by AMN.

As can be seen in the picture above, technology is just one of the challenges in providing rural and remote connectivity. There are other challenges that have to be considered too.

Embedded below is the talk provided by Dr. Alex Jinsung Choi,  CTO, SK Telecom and TIP Chairman and the slides follow that.

For more info, see:
Download the TIP slides from here.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Feasibility Study on New Services and Markets Technology Enablers for 5G

3GPP SA1 (see tutorial about 3GPP if you dont know) recently released four new Technical Reports outlining the New Services and Markets Technology Enablers (SMARTER) for next generation mobile telecommunications.

3GPP TR 22.891 has already identified over 70 different which are into different groups as can be seen in the picture above. These groups are massive Internet of Things (MTC), Critical Communications, enhanced Mobile Broadband, Network Operation and Enhancement of Vehicle-to-Everything (eV2X).

The first 4 items have their own technical reports (see below) but work on the last item has only recently started and does not yet have a TR to show to the outside world. It is foreseen that when there are results from the eV2X study these will be taken on board in the Smarter work. (thanks to Toon Norp for this info)

The four Technical Reports (TR) are:
  • TR 22.861, FS_SMARTER – massive Internet of Things (MTC): Massive Internet of Things focuses on use cases with massive number of devices (e.g., sensors and wearables). This group of use cases is particularly relevant to the new vertical services, such as smart home and city, smart utilities, e-Health, and smart wearables.
  • TR 22.862, FS_SMARTER – Critical Communications: The main areas where improvements are needed for Critical Communications are latency, reliability, and availability to enable, for example, industrial control applications and tactile Internet. These requirements can be met with an improved radio interface, optimized architecture, and dedicated core and radio resources.
  • TR 22.863, FS_SMARTER – enhanced Mobile Broadband: Enhanced Mobile Broadband includes a number of different use case families related to higher data rates, higher density, deployment and coverage, higher user mobility, devices with highly variable user data rates, fixed mobile convergence, and small-cell deployments.
  • TR 22.864, FS_SMARTER – Network Operation: The use case group Network Operation addresses the functional system requirements, including aspects such as: flexible functions and capabilities, new value creation, migration and interworking, optimizations and enhancements, and security.
Embedded below is 3GPP TR 22.891 which has a lot of interesting use cases and makes a useful reading.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

'Mobile Edge Computing' (MEC) or 'Fog Computing' (fogging) and 5G & IoT

Picture Source: Cisco

The clouds are up in the sky whereas the fog is low, on the ground. This is how Fog Computing is referred to as opposed to the cloud. Fog sits at the edge (that is why edge computing) to reduce the latency and do an initial level of processing thereby reducing the amount of information that needs to be exchanged with the cloud.

The same paradigm is being used in case of 5G to refer to edge computing, which is required when we are referring to 1ms latency in certain cases.

As this whitepaper from Ovum & Eblink explains:

Mobile Edge Computing (MEC): Where new processing capabilities are introduced in the base station for new applications, with a new split of functions and a new interface between the baseband unit (BBU) and the remote radio unit (RRU).
Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) is an ETSI initiative, where processing and storage capabilities are placed at the base station in order to create new application and service opportunities. This new initiative is called “fog computing” where computing, storage, and network capabilities are deployed nearer to the end user.

MEC contrasts with the centralization principles discussed above for C-RAN and Cloud RAN. Nevertheless, MEC deployments may be built upon existing C-RAN or Cloud RAN infrastructure and take advantage of the backhaul/fronthaul links that have been converted from legacy to these new centralized architectures.

MEC is a long-term initiative and may be deployed during or after 5G if it gains support in the 5G standardization process. Although it is in contrast to existing centralization efforts, Ovum expects that MEC could follow after Cloud RAN is deployed in large scale in advanced markets. Some operators may also skip Cloud RAN and migrate from C-RAN to MEC directly, but MEC is also likely to require the structural enhancements that C-RAN and Cloud RAN will introduce into the mobile network.

The biggest challenge facing MEC in the current state of the market is its very high costs and questionable new service/revenue opportunities. Moreover, several operators are looking to invest in C-RAN and Cloud RAN in the near future, which may require significant investment to maintain a healthy network and traffic growth. In a way, MEC is counter to the centralization principle of Centralized/Cloud RAN and Ovum expects it will only come into play when localized applications are perceived as revenue opportunities.

And similarly this Interdigital presentation explains:

Extends cloud computing and services to the edge of the network and into devices. Similar to cloud, fog provides network, compute, storage (caching) and services to end users. The distinguishing feature of Fog reduces latency & improves QoS resulting in a superior user experience

Here is a small summary of the patents with IoT and Fog Computing that has been flied.

Monday, 9 November 2015

5G and Evolution of the Inter-connected Network

While there are many parameters to consider when designing the next generation network, speed is the simplest one to understand and sell to the end user.

Last week, I did a keynote at the International Telecom Sync Forum (ITSF) 2015. As an analyst keynote, I looked at how the networks are evolving and getting more complex, full of interesting options and features available for the operator to decide which ones to select.

There wont just be multiple generations of technologies existing at the same time but there will also be small cells based networks, macro networks, drones and balloons based networks and satellite based networks.

My presentation is embedded below. For any reason, if you want to download it, please fill the form at the bottom of this page and download.

Just after my keynote, I came across this news in Guardian about 'Alphabet and Facebook develop rival secret drone plans'; its an interesting read. As you may be aware Google is actively working with Sri Lanka and Indonesia for providing seamless internet access nationally.

It was nice to hear EE provide the second keynote which focused on 5G. I especially liked this slide which summarised their key 5G research areas. Their presentation is embedded below and available to download from slideshare.

The panel discussion was interesting as well. As the conference focused on timing and synchronisation, the questions were on those topics too. I have some of them below, interested to hear your thoughts:

  • Who cares about syncing the core? - Everything has moved to packets, the only reason for sync is to coordinate access points in wireless for higher level services. We have multiple options to sync the edge, why bother to sync the core at all?
  • We need synchronisation to improve the user’s experience right? - Given the ever improving quality of the time-bases embedded within equipment, what exactly would happen to the user experience if synchronisation collapsed… or is good sync all about operators experience?
  • IoT… and the impact on synchronisation- can we afford it? - M2M divisions of network operators make a very small fraction of the operator’s revenue, is that going to change and will it allow the required investment in sync technology that it might require?

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Challenges in the future 'Network of Networks'

Came across this paper from Dec. 2000 recently. Its interesting to see that even back then researchers were thinking about multiple networks that a user can have access to via handovers. Researchers nowadays think about how to access as many networks as possible simultaneously. I call is Multi-stream aggregation (MSA), some others call it Multi-RAT Carrier Aggregation (MCA) and so on.

If we look at the different access technologies, each has its own evolution in the coming years. Some of these are:

  • Fixed/Terrestrial broadband: (A)DSL, Cable, Fiber
  • Mobile Broadband: 3G, 4G and soon 5G
  • Wireless Broadband: WiFi
  • Laser communications
  • LiFi or LED based communications
  • High frequency sound based communications 
Then there could be a combination of multiple technologies working simultaneously. For example:
And the handover has to be seamless between different access technologies. For example:

There has been an interest in moving on to higher frequencies. These bands can be used for access as well as backhaul. The same applies for most of the access technologies listed above which can work as a backhaul to enable other access technologies.

While planned networks would be commonplace, other topologies like mesh network will gain ground too. Device to device and direct communications will help create ad-hoc networks.

While the current networks are mostly stationary, mobile networks will also become common. Opportunity Driven Multiple Access (ODMA) or Multihop Cellular Networks (MCN) would help devices use other devices to reach their destination. Non-standardised proprietary solutions (for example Firechat) will become common too. Security, Privacy and Trust will play an important role here.

Satellite networks, the truly global connectivity providers will play an important role too. While backhauling the small cells on planes, trains and ships will be an important part of satellite networks, they may be used for access too. Oneweb plans to launch 900 micro satellites to provide high speed global connectivity. While communications at such high frequencies mean that small form factor devices like mobile cant receive the signals easily, connected cars could use the satellite connectivity very well.

Samsung has an idea to provide connectivity through 4,600 satellites to be able to transmit 200GB monthly to 5 Billion people worldwide. While this is very ambitious, its not the only innovative and challenging idea. I am sure we all now about the Google loon. Facebook on the other hand wants to use a solar powered drone (UAV) to offer free internet access services to users who cannot get online.

As I mentioned, security and privacy will be a big challenge for devices being able to connect to multiple access networks and other devices. An often overlooked challenge is the timing and sync between different networks. In an ideal world all these networks would be phase and time synchronised to each other so as not to cause interference but in reality this will be a challenging task, especially with ad-hoc and moing networks.

I will be giving a keynote at the ITSF 2015 in November at Edinburgh. This is a different type of conference that looks at Time and Synchronisation aspects in Telecoms. While I will be providing a generic overview on where the technologies are moving (continuing from my presentation in Phase ready conference), I am looking forward to hearing about these challenges and their solutions in this conference.

Andy Sutton (Principal Network Architect) and Martin Kingston (Principal Designer) with EE have shared some of their thought on this topic which is as follows and available to download here.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Broadband Access via Integrated Terrestrial & Satellite Systems

Last week I attended an event in the University of Surrey that was about providing high speed connectivity to un-served and under-served areas in future. While there is no arguing that satellites are a great option for unserved areas, the underserved areas can really benefit by such initiatives.

The way this is being proposed is to have a specialised Intelligent User Gateway (IUG) that can connect to ADSL, Mobile and Satellite. The assumption is that in areas of poor conectivity, ADSL can provide 2Mbps and the mobile could do something similar, upto 8Mbps. The satellites can easily do 20Mbps.

While the satellite broadband has the advantage of high speeds, they often suffer from high latencies. ADSL on the other hand has very small latency but may not be good enough for streaming kind of applications. Mobile generally falls in between for latency and speed. Using Multipath TCP and some intelligent routing algorithms, decisions can be taken to optimise for latency and speeds.

I did see some impressive demo's in the lab and it did what is says on the tin. The real challenge would be the business models. While ADSL can offer unlimited internet, both Mobile and Satellite broadband will have caps. I was told that limits could be imposed so that once the Mobile/Satellite data allowance is over, only ADSL would be used. Maybe a more complex algorithm could be implemented in future that can include cost and priority of the application/service being used.

An example would be that sometimes I want to watch some long videos over Youtube but I am happy to start buffering an hour in advance. Its not critical that I have to watch that now. I would be more than happy to save my Mobile/Satellite broadband data allowance for some other day when I need to watch things more urgently. If the end of month is coming and I have a lot of data allowance left then maybe I dont mind using the quota otherwise I will anyway lose the allowance. Its always challenging to put this intelligence in the routing decision algorithms though.

Anyway, the combined presentations are embedded below and you can download them from the BATS project page here:

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Multi-stream aggregation (MSA): Key technology for future networks

In our recent 5G presentation here, we outlined multi-technology carrier aggregation as one of the technologies for the future networks. Some of the discussions that I had on this topic later on highlighted the following:
  1. This is generally referred to as Multi-stream aggregation (MSA)
  2. We will see this much sooner than 5G, probably from LTE-A Rel-13 onwards 

Huawei have a few documents on this topic. One such document is embedded below and aanother more technical document is available on slideshare here.

Monday, 16 September 2013

#5G: Your Questions Answered

This is our view on what 5G is, please feel free to add your comments here or if you want a much wider audience to discuss your comments, please add them to the Cisco Communities here.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Is it too early to talk '5G'

While LTE/LTE-A (or 4G) is being rolled out, there is already a talk about 5G. Last week in the LTE World Summit in Amsterdam, there was a whole track on what should 5G be without much technical details. Couple of months back Samsung had announced that they have reached 5G breakthrough. In my talk back in May, I had suggested that 5G would be an evolution on the Radio Access but the core will evolve just little. Anyway, its too early to speculate what the access technology for 5G would be.

Ericsson has published a '5G' whitepaper where they talk about the vision and why and what of 5G rather than going into any technical details. It is embedded below:

Friday, 12 April 2013

Myths and Challenges in Future Wireless Access

Interesting article from the recent IEEE Comsoc magazine. Table 1 on page 5 is an interesting comparison of how different players reach the magical '1000x' capacity increase. Even though Huawei shows 100x, which may be more realistic, the industry is sticking with the 1000x figure. 

Qualcomm is touting a similar 1000x figure as I showed in a post earlier here.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

LTE-B, LTE-C, ... , LTE-X

Please make sure to read the comment from Kevin Flynn of 3GPP at the end

When I saw this picture above, I started wondering what LTE-B, etc. and started digging a bit deep. Came across this Ericsson presentation (embedded below) that shows the breakdown.

To just be sure that this is not Ericsson specific term, I also found a presentation by NTT Docomo (embedded below)
So I guess using LTE-B, LTE-C, etc. is better than saying 4.1G, 4.2G, etc. as we did in case of 3G/HSPA.

The presentations from Ericsson and NTT Docomo embedded below, available to download from Slideshare.

Friday, 27 April 2012

10 Times Beyond LTE-A (5G maybe?)

Recently when I added a presentation by NSN on whats coming after IMT-Advanced, it was very well received and has already had over 8000 views. There seems to be definitely an appetite for the future networks. Here is another such presentation.

There is also a video of the presentation if you have the patience to sit, watch and learn.